Making a Better Pace Bead

Pace beads are junk.

The concept is great, and like all the land nav stuff I do, I encourage them strongly. But the actual beads that are available today are totally hobby grade, so are brittle and break, especially in the cold. Yes, even the snazzy "ranger" beads with the cone shape are no longer rubber, but the same chintzy acetate bead material that can break way too easily. 

I have seen this. I have had it happen—a bead shattered and fell off—and only because we had more than one distance measuring function going on did I not get lost because I had 8 instead of 9 beads on my 100m counter. 

Cheap pace beads are dangerous.

So for a few years now I have slowly messed with other ideas. I've made a few, given away a few, and they work but there have been issues of cost,complexity, availability, labor, etc. But now I have one that you may all be interested in. 

Left to right: emulation of storebought beads a tween kid made me years ago, custom silicone beads, two sets of Neoprene beads on nylon, Neoprene beads on Kevlar.


First, the beads. You can make the beads just like normal, but use these:

Lasco is just the easy to find brand sold everywhere, but any will do. Any 00 size cone shaped Neoprene will do. Amazon only carries 100 packs, but Home Depot and Lowe's have things like this 10 pack for $1.99:

They are, as you see above, the right size for normal assembly on two strands of cored paracord. I suspect that if you like them super stiff you can make on complete paracord, but haven't tried because I like them like this. 



Because I find some other dumbness about pace bead assembly, I have gone way, way over the top and done two other things, both of which (at the risk of being told to stop promoting myself, I will make you and sell through our little company website:

They are also: 

  • Crimped instead of knotted, so they hang straight down instead of twisting, etc.
  • Slightly weighted, especially at the bottom, to hang straighter yet
  • Longer, so it's easier to tell the beads moved, and avoid small accidental movements causing miscounts 
  • With larger spaces between two bead stacks, which are also thin and smooth so (unlike knots) they cannot be mistaken for a bead even with gloves on 


And since I said indestructible, I also make them on Kevlar paracord. Because why not go entirely over the top? 

If anyone really wants to know, ask and I'll share some more about how they are built. It's a 23 step manufacturing process, so I bet you don't actually want to know and would rather just tie in a knot. 


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